Farmer Focus: Feed price has me sweating while I wait for rain

It has taken me a little longer to write this month’s article, mainly due to the stag do trip to Cologne in Germany last weekend. It more than lived up to expectations and I think everyone at home was just pleased to see me home in one piece.

These trips really do make you appreciate the value of good friends.

On the farm we continue to wait for any significant rain. We cannot complain too much though, as I know others are having a really tough time of it.

It does just make you recognise how brutal farming can be at times. We have managed to take our third cut, it had gotten to the stage where it was going backwards.

See also: Advice for managing forage supplies in a drought

We averaged 1.7t across 65ha, so it was pretty shocking, but it did look like some reasonable stuff and filled our one clamp back up. So although it was costly, I do think it was the right thing to do.

Two days later I was spreading nitrogen at midnight as we had finally had some rain of note. I think some people must think I am mad, but fingers crossed a fourth cut will appear, as we will need that to feed youngstock.

I have spent the past week sweating over feed prices. Our current deal is up in October and as you can imagine, we are in for quite a shock.

You have to go through all the ifs and buts and wonder whether it is just a short-term scare story and if harvest will really be that bad.

Somehow it felt more of a lottery than ever this year, but our blend price will be just over £20/t more from October. We were also conscious that having fixed a proportion of our milk sales, it was important to do the same with some of the feed and so try to secure a reasonable milk-to-feed price ratio. 

It is good to hear Muller increased the milk price to 29.5p/litre. Given that in addition to feed prices, wages and machinery costs have also gone up this, was much needed.

I just hope this is a signal that the dairies are going to do their best to support farmers, as it looks as if it is going to be an expensive winter ahead.

Henry Wilson is a Farmer Focus writer from Shropshire. Read his biography.